I still like a real book and the Sunday newspaper.  I also like that when a salesperson leaves me that glossy folder filled with information that I can digest when I have a few minutes and the time to focus on it. I'm old-fashioned in that way, maybe because I grew up pre-internet, smartphones and tablets. In my first sales job, we printed out color graphs and data and put it into a nice glossy folder to help us convince someone our radio station was the best place to spend their ad money. 

So, I was working with a coaching client the other day who is just getting started and I was making the case that he needed to print material to leave for potential clients. Being from the digital generation, he didn't believe me. He protested...said something about trees and people not consuming information in that way. We decided to agree to disagree.

Well, I was right. I love being right (I shouldn't gloat) and now I have proof. According to a new FedEx Office survey, there is an enduring preference for printed materials in today's increasingly digital world. The online survey was conducted by polling firm PSB and included 800 participants who were a nationally representative sample of national U.S. general population consumers.

Here are a few key findings from the study that I found interesting and helpful for any business to keep in mind: 

  1. More than nine in 10 consumers agreed there will always be a need for printed materials, with almost half (49 percent) of those surveyed saying a world without paper would make them feel stressed or annoyed.
  2. 70 percent of respondents reported having items professionally printed the same amount or more than in the previous year.
  3. This is particularly true for millennials - a segment of consumers that make purchasing decisions via social media and who are more comfortable and savvy in the digital world than other generations.
  4. Despite the familiarity with digital, nearly half of millennial respondents (ages 18-34) reported having something professionally printed at least once a month.
  5. Nine in 10 of consumers and small business owners agreed that they "like to have the option to have printed materials" and preferred reading materials on paper - most notably official documents and contracts - versus on a digital screen.
  6. Survey participants who were small business owners said that having materials printed professionally reflects positively on their business, and consumers agreed.
  7. 85 percent of consumers said they are more likely to shop with a small business that has custom/professionally printed materials, such as business cards, signs, flyers or banners.
  8. Four out of five small business owners said that professional printing services can help their businesses stand out from the competition.
  9. Nine in 10 consumers agreed that the quality of printed materials is an indication of the quality of service provided by a business.

So, I now have to go send an email to my client about printing that nice glossy folder material that I have been nagging him to print.